Sunday, 28 February 2010

BOOK NEWS: Ky-Mani Marley's tell-all book 'drama'

Ky-Mani Marley’s new tell-all memoir, Dear Dad: Where’s The Family In Our Family Today? is already a source of controversy. But apparently, Marley is the one who is pissed. In a very recent interview with the Miami Herald, Marley puts his publisher on blast for allegedly failing to honour the artiste’s wishes for certain “edits” to be made. What’s more, Marley complains that some of his words were “twisted.” He is also not pleased with the new book cover, and caption (‘The Story The Marley Family Apparently Doesn’t Want You To Know’). Interesting.

Ky-Mani told the publication how he really feels about the situation:

“As far as twisting my words, we went through the book initially, and we had edited it and had a first cover that we agreed upon using. After I brought it to my sister and speaking to her, I felt as though I wanted to make some edits. There were certain things I didn't have an understanding for, and she made it clear to me. At that time, I contacted [publisher] Mr. Farrah Gray and said there were just a few small edits I would like to make in the book. And he decided that he didn't want to make the edits, because what I wanted to change was very controversial and he felt as though that would be the selling point, or one of the selling points, of the book. I told him that I was not willing to participate in the promotion of the book unless I have these changes made. . . . He stopped taking my calls for a month or two.

`And I wake up one morning; I think it was Feb. 5, to see this new cover with the caption saying `the book the Marley family apparently doesn't want you to read.' And I was very taken aback by that, being that my family had already read the book. To be honest, I really don't know if he changed anything because I've been so disgruntled by it that I haven't even had a chance to read the new edit….. I'm able to move forward -- I've been fighting all my life, so this is not new to me. I'm in a place I'm used to.''

Dear Dad is Ky-Mani’s tell-it-like-it-is story of his strange relationship with the Marley clan, before and after the death of Bob. In the book, out this month, he talks about the shoddy treatment he received from his father’s side of the family for years and chronicles his survival in the gritty, drug-infested streets of the Miami ghettoes to his ascent as a Grammy-nominated reggae star. If the reader reviews on Amazon are anything to go, this one might be worth picking up. In the meantime, word is Ky-Mani’s upcoming album is called Evolution of a Revolution.

Friday, 26 February 2010

BOOK BUZZ: What should Bolt title his upcoming autobiography?

MAN OF TALENT: Usain Bolt, the World's Fastest Man, has announced that an autobiography is in the works. At right, is current IAAF President, Senegal's Lamine Diack (at a press conference in Monaco last November).

Usain Bolt, the ace sprinter. Usain Bolt, the ambassador. Usain Bolt, the author? Apparently, ‘Lightning’ Bolt is about to expand his résumé – again. According to Bolt’s management team, the track superstar has inked a two-book deal with publishing titan HarperSport. Word is an illustrated book about the athlete’s career and his Jamaican roots is due to be published this October.

The second release, an in-depth autobiography, will come out shortly after the 2012 London Olympics. In a posting on his agent's website, Bolt is quoted as saying, "I'm determined to give my fans all over the world a great insight into me and my life."

But, clearly, a professional writer will collaborate with Bolt on this tell-all autobiography because I don’t see the 23-year-old sprinter churning out his life story, with all the “great insight,” all by himself. At the same time, this one might sell some copies, provided that it delivers big time. He is, after all, a mega global brand with insane earning potential, and you have to give props to his relentless “marketing” team.

Anyway, I wonder what the intended title of the autobiography is. I want to refrain from offering suggestions, but let’s hope it’s nothing uninspired and cheesy like “Bolt: To Di Werl” "They Call Me Lightning." I'm just saying. More importantly, Mr. Bolt et al, today’s readers want real bang for their buck, so please bear that in mind when crafting this book. Translation: Don't skimp on the scandalous details.

Bolt, who is a member of the Order of Jamaica (OJ), emerged as a bonafide superstar at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by winning gold medals and setting world records in the 100 and 200 metres and the 4 X 100 team relay. He also won gold medals in those events at last year's World Championships in Berlin, lowering his own marks in both the 100 and 200 sprints.

In the meantime, we await the official re-naming of Highway 2000 to the Usain Bolt Highway – if that's still going to happen. Maybe the government was just bluffing.

Your Thoughts: Do you have suggestions for Bolt's book title? I'd love to hear from you.

SPOTTED: Here, There & Everywhere

PARTY PEOPLE: Birthday girl Ce'Cile (right) hangs with Dexter '3D' Pottinger and dancehall vixen Spice at her recent b'day bash at the Fiction night spot in Kingston. Where did Spice pick up those shades? Loves them.

FAB CHICK: Ce'Cile does it in style at her recent birthday bash at Fiction, looking fly and enjoying her champagne syrup drink. Feeling the ruffled bottom of the outfit. Fierce.

FLYING HIGH: Cherine is working the heck out of those thigh-high boots during her recent performance on John Mayer's "Battle Studies" tour stop in Toronto, Canada. The entire outfit sizzles, as usual.

COMMUNITY AFFAIR: Prime Minister Bruce Golding prepares to cut the ribbon to open the re-established community development centre in Hannah Town last week. Good investment for the people of Hannah Town. Sharing in the moment are Constable Fay Francis-Campbell; Denham Town councillor Lorna Lesley; CHASE Fund CEO, Billy Heaven, and Ludlow Watt, General Manager of the Sport Development Foundation.

HAPPY FACES: These young Hannah Town residents show their gratitude to Prime Minister Bruce Golding at the recent opening of the re-established community development centre.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

THEATRE SPECIAL: White Witch @ Fairfield, MoBay

PASSIONATE PLEA: Noelle Kerr and Philip Clarke share a scene in White Witch.

White Witch (Fairfield Theatre Productions)

Director: Douglas Prout

Cast: Maylynne Walton, Keiran King, Noelle Kerr, Peter Abrikian and Philip Clarke

Venue: Fairfield Theatre, Montego Bay

Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

Who says Annie Palmer was nothing more than a heartless, conniving bitch? You might come away with a slightly different view of the controversial woman after seeing the Fairfield Theatre’s incarnation of the anti-heroine in Jane Crichton’s musical folk drama, White Witch, a fascinating production that blends historical drama with song, dance and storytelling for a tremendously spirited and entertaining package.

While there’s no sugar-coating of the horrors that went down at Rose Hall at the height of plantation slavery, Crichton’s story (which soars in director Douglas Prout’s capable hands) offers a sensitive yet thought-provoking dimension to the myriad of stories and rumours that have passed down through generations about the goings-on at the world-renowned estate.

An absorbing account of romance, evil, aristocracy and redemption, White Witch introduces us to Englishman Robert Rutherford (Keiran King), a handsome and dashing bookkeeper who arrives at Rose Hall to learn about sugar cane cultivation. Annie, who has long buried her three murdered husbands, is immediately infatuated with him, but so too is the sweetly innocent house slave, Millie (Noelle Kerr). Consequently, a fierce rivalry for Robert’s attention and affection ensues between both women.

To help her gain an advantage in winning Robert’s heart, Annie turns to Taku (a terrific Philip Clarke), the frightful and trusted witch doctor and also Millie’s grandfather, who is popular for his seemingly effective black magic and strangely resembles Rafiki from The Lion King. Meanwhile, the slaves on the plantation, under the supervision of distracted overseer, Joe (Peter Abrikian), are on the verge of rebellion, putting additional strain on Annie’s emotions. What plays out involves much physical and emotional turmoil, manipulation and a series of unfortunate events that test the strength of the human spirit.

MENAGE A TRIAL: Keiran King (centre) is flanked by two devoted admirers, played by Noelle Kerr and Maylynne Walton in White Witch.

Ideally cast in the title role, Maylynne Walton is congenially brilliant as the widely misunderstood she-devil, who allegedly relied on witchcraft and murder to get her way during her years at Rose Hall. But instead of utterly zoning in on Palmer’s vindictive and treacherous side, Walton makes wiser character choices here, chiefly portraying Palmer more as a needy, relentless and passionate love-seeker than a cold and calculating victimizer. There’s as much flair, grace and elegance as there is meanness, treachery and shamelessness in her character, based on Walton’s portrayal.

As Robert, King looks the part and works hard to convince, but his performance rarely rises above a singular dimension. Supporting players, including Abrikian, David Tulloch, Coleen Lewis and Angelita McDonald also give decent accounts, but the real revelation is Noelle Kerr, who offers an incandescent and thoroughly award-worthy turn as the sweet and gentle Millie, a girl who bravely chooses to follow her heart.

Musically, the production has it moments; “Damn Them” is a particularly outstanding number. “Average Joe,” on the other hand, is long and irrelevant. At the same time, the pre-recorded music occasionally overpowers the live vocal performances. But, thankfully, the show’s pacing is brisk, the set design and lighting is laudable while costuming also gets high marks.

Crichton’s story has plot holes and minor inconsistencies, but the language employed for dialogue is frequently beautiful and evocative. While director Douglas Prout and his committed cast and crew haven’t exactly crafted a masterpiece, White Witch is a splendidly rendered and provocative musical production that melds history and fiction, superstition and romance with largely good results.

PIECES OF ME: Turning 25: A Quarter-Life Crisis?!

On February 3, I hit the big 2-5. According to the experts, I have officially entered adulthood. (Cue the marching band!) Growing up, arriving at the quarter-century mark always seemed like an eternity away; a milestone that would be marked by unparalleled joy, celebration and an incredible sense of achievement. The reality, I fear, has not been so rosy. In fact, recently turning 25 has only served to reinforce the notion that entering adulthood is one of the most cumbersome though partially enlightening experiences one is bound to face in life.

Still, I can’t help but feel like I’ve accomplished something as major as copping a top prize that puts a smile on my grandmother’s face. But there is a range of unsettling emotions I’ve encountered over the past two weeks that are hard to explain. And I’m not referring to my legendary mood swings. Probably just nerves about getting older and being only five years away from 30. (Sometime last year, I swear I spotted two greys growing close to my forehead. The horror. They’ve since disappeared).

More than ever, these days I worry about fulfilling my dream of publishing close to a dozen books and globe-trotting at a rate that would put George Clooney’s Up In The Air character to shame. I am wracked by guilt that I have not yet read for a second degree or saved as much in my bank account as I promised myself I would.

In today’s world, obsessed with fame, success, dollars and cents, what should have I accomplished by age 25? The basics, I suppose, including solid secondary and college education and some amount of financial independence. In my case, though, there’s also the harsh truth that you can’t truly rely on a soul but yourself.

And then there are some important life lessons: It is wise to cherish and make maximum use of your gifts (I don’t exercise my terrific vocal chords as often as I should); achieving true success involves considerable hard work, commitment and sacrifice. I have always prized my youthful appearance, vigour, drive and vast reservoir of energy. And while I don’t sense those dwindling, I can’t help but wonder how long I’ll be able to hold on to them.

Such niggling concerns, according to life experts, rank among the symptoms of ‘the quarter-life crisis’ (not to be confused with ‘the mid-life crisis!’). These professionals argue that nearly all twentysomethings face ‘the quarter-life crisis’ as part of the process of entering full-blown adulthood. Oh dear. And what are the two principal symptoms? Frustration with relationships, jobs and the real world AND insecurity about everything. Oh, that’s so me. At times I do feel as if I am insecure about everything, from my physique and my health to my finances and career choices.

Since my days as a high school standout, I have always been more fearful than confident, more brooding and pensive than joyous and optimistic. Not much has changed. I have very high standards. I demand excellence. More than once I have even been accused of perfectionism. I worry when things don’t seem to be going how I desired and anticipated.

Am I expecting too much out of life, too soon? I don’t think so. But, according to the experts (again), young adults who identify with symptoms of ‘the quarter-life crisis’ should (a) Lower expectations and/or (b) Give up the indecision and go after your goals. I am more of a dream chaser. Always have been, and, I can safely say, will always be. I am motivated by fear, driven by my passions. That’s one constant I hope remains.

In any case, I am fully cognizant that, at 25, I’m still on a journey of self-discovery. Many of us are. Several persons who read my work say they are surprised that I am “so young.” Touching. They make me feel like I can really do it all. Sometimes I wish I shared their sort of confidence. But I know I’ll get there. Someday.

Did you freak out about turning 25? How did you cope with your ‘quarter-life crisis’? How do you feel now when you look back? As always, I’d love to hear from you, dear readers.

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS: White Witch @ Fairfield Theatre

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS: White Witch @ Fairfield Theatre

ACTOR BOY WATCH: Best Actresses of 2009-10

TALLAWAH closes off this leg of Actor Boy Watch with a look at the picks for the top four actresses of the past season. I know, it should be five, but I couldn't come up with a worthy fifth. Quite unfortunately, I missed too many productions last year. So, here goes:

BAD GIRLS: Camille Davis (left) shines opposite Sakina in Diana.

Camille Davis, DIANA

Bold and daring, Davis gave a mesmerizing turn as an exotic dancer who faces tribulations in her personal and ‘professional’ lives; one of the most nuanced female performances of the year.

Dahlia Harris, ME & MI CHAPSIE

No stranger to robust and engaging acting, Harris was in her element as Marilyn, a driven career woman who finds herself heads over heels for a sexy young stud in Aston Cooke’s Me & Mi Chapsie.

Hilary Nicholson, LOVE LETTERS

Opposite an appealing Paul Issa, Nicholson, last year’s Best Actress winner, shone as a confident but vulnerable woman who corresponds with her childhood sweetheart via touching and revealing letters in the Brian Heap-directed Love Letters.


After a lengthy break from the stage, Reid returned in stunning form (alongside Dorothy Cunningham, Ronald Goshop and Tesfa Edwards) to star as a strong-willed wife whose husband strays after younger flesh in Dream Merchant.

NEXT TIME: The nominees are revealed (announcements are set for March 1), and the analysis begins. Wonderful days ahead, dear readers.

THEATRE REVIEW: 2009-10 LTM Pantomime, Pirate Jack

BY THE SEA: Disgruntled residents express their grievance in this scene from Pirate Jack.

Pirate Jack (Little Theatre Movement)

Director: Robert Clarke

Cast: Doreen King, Faith Bucknor, Audley Green and Cadine Hall

Venue: Little Theatre, Kingston

Tyrone’s Verdict: C+

Pirate Jack, the 2009-10 LTM Pantomime, is at its best when the stage serves as a showcase for the magnificent, colourful set design, costumes, lighting and inventive props. Technical poignancy has always been a hallmark of the annual musical production. But, this season, when the focus is on the eerily familiar story and the acting performances, there is not much to thoroughly hold your attention.

The residents of Sea Grape Fishing Beach are concerned about the rapidly dwindling fish available to sustain their livelihood. As a result of the poor catch, business is suffering. On the advice of businessman Mr. Harry Seaside (Kevin Halstead) they decide to venture out to the treacherous Jankro Bay to try their luck.

Meanwhile, buccaneer Pirate Jack is also down on his luck, and along with his disgruntled crew, eccentric daughter (Toni-Ann Fraser), busybody mother-in-law (Faith Bucknor) and loyal wife (Doreen King), he also sets out for Jankro Bay. The fates of the Sea Grape residents, Pirate Jack and his crew becomes laced together as the production heads to its startling conclusion.

Helmed once again by veteran director Robert ‘Bobby’ Clarke, highlights include the engaging movement and the frequently ear-pleasing numbers, as well as a few standouts in the large cast of veterans and up-and-comers. However, Barbara Gloudon’s script lacks freshness, and there’s simply not enough juicy joy in the dialogue and lyrics as in previous years.

Pirate Jack looks great (glossy and well-lit) on the surface (thanks to the combination of set, lighting and costuming), but beneath the façade, there’s not much substance to hold it all together.

VIDEO SPECIAL: Artistes and Digicel team up in support of Haiti

Mobile giants Digicel has thoughtfully brought together 12 multi-talented Caribbean voices to record "Rise Again," a heart-warming and eternally optimistic anthem of hope for our brothers and sisters in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The collaboration features international stars Shaggy, Sean Paul and Sean Kingston; Barbadian soca queen, Alison Hinds; Trinidadian soca artistes, David Rudder and Destra Garcia; Jamaican reggae-soul artistes, Tessanne Chin and Etana; Haitian artiste Belo; and several others.

The selection of performers seems somewhat elitist, but then again, who's complaining. It's for charity. The track is now available for download on iTunes. All proceeds go to the
Digicel Haiti Relief Fund. Check out the beautifully shot video below.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

MUSIC REVIEW: Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea

'RAE' OF LIGHT: The singer returns with her passions intact

The Sea (Capitol Records)

Artiste: Corinne Bailey Rae

Tyrone’s Verdict: A-

Audiences were instantly captivated by Corinne Bailey Rae’s mix of rhythmic melodies, megawatt sweetness and girlish innocence when the British singer-songwriter introduced us to her sound with a stunning 2006 self-titled debut. Her smoky voice, soulful and expressive, immediately won comparisons to Billie Holliday and Norah Jones. Songs like “Trouble Sleeping,” “Like a Star” and the Record of the Year-nominated “Put Your Records On” highlighted the singer’s bluesy contralto and throaty vocals and earned her a place in the pantheon of emerging singer-songwriters who matter.

Then the unthinkable happened: Bailey Rae’s beloved husband (saxophonist Jason Rae, 31) was found dead in a London apartment, in March 2008, reportedly the victim of a drug overdose. Understandably, the fragile singer descended into a deep depression that threatened to keep her permanently hidden from her global fans. Two years later, evidence suggests that Bailey Rae is still reeling from the tragedy, but like the consummate entertainer she has poured the emotions into her art. The result is The Sea (Capitol Records), a compelling sophomore recording that is sure to please her longtime loyalists and woo new followers.

Once again, Bailey Rae’s music feels effortless in the sense that her lyrics are often conversational and on the surface appear to discuss relationship matters. But, not surprisingly, the bulk of the eleven tracks on The Sea are informed by loss, grief and sorrow, though themes of hope and beauty occasionally shine through. And it is this sort of expression of vulnerability that still connects with fans.

The finest of the tracks here include the heartbreakingly beautiful “I’d Do It All Again,” which has the power to bring even the toughest cynic to tears. Then there’s the plaintive “Are You Here” and the endlessly moving “Love’s On Its Way.” She sings about falling hard for a lover on “Closer”; on the upbeat, rock-guitar-flavoured “The Blackest Lily” she continues her passion study (I was a creature of appetites/And we played a game that you didn’t like/There was nothing that I could do) while on the jazz-inflected “Paris Nights/New York Mornings” she addresses the joy attendant to the perfect fantasy romance.

With superbly executed arrangements from longtime production collaborators Steve Brown and Steve Chrisanthou and a new band of British-based musicians, Corinne Bailey Rae’s The Sea is at once haunting and melodiously smooth and stunning. There’s growth here, hope, joy, confession and beauty, but there are also traces of a broken heart. Magical, innocent and tender, as always, Corinne Bailey Rae deserves your undivided attention.

BEST TRACKS: “Diving For Hearts,” “Closer” and “I’d Do It All Again”

CULTURE NEWS: UWI to establish Rex Nettleford Foundation

HERO'S HONOUR: New UWI foundation to salute work of late Rex Nettleford

In honour of the life and work of the late Vice-Chancellor Emeritus, Professor Rex Nettleford, the University of the West Indies (UWI) is set to establish The Rex Nettleford Foundation for Caribbean Cultural and Social Studies.

According to the regional university, an endowment fund will be set up with proceeds going to support the research of exceptional postgraduate students and fellows in areas reflecting the breadth of Professor Nettleford’s own contributions to Caribbean development, whether in the arts, history, politics or culture of the Caribbean region. In addition to postgraduate studies and research, it is envisaged that the Foundation will eventually finance the establishment of an endowed Chair in Caribbean Cultural and Social Studies.

Until the Rex Nettleford Foundation is legally established, gifts and contributions will be accepted through the UWI Regional Endowment Fund, which was created in 2008 on the occasion of UWI’s sixtieth anniversary. Rex Nettleford passed away on February 2 in Washington DC after collapsing while attending a conference on racial discrimination.The cause of death has been identified as catastrophic brain injury following cardiac arrest. Nettleford was 76.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

SPOTTED: Here, There & Everywhere

DIPLOMATIC TIES: Prime Minister Bruce Golding is presented with a scroll outlining historic sites in Tianjin, China, by Deputy Secretary of the China Communist Party, He Lifeng (left) during his recent trip to the Asian state to discuss development plans for Downtown Kingston.

SHARP DRESSER: Superstar Sean Paul gets his party on recently at LIV at Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida.

ELECTRIC BLUE BABE: Cherine Anderson poses for a quick snap on location in Jacksonville, Florida, where she recently opened for pop star John Mayer's ongoing North American tour.

TAKIN' IT TO THE STAGE: Shaggy makes his presence felt during a performance at the Ragamuffin Music Festival in Brisbane, Australia.

NATIONAL AFFAIR: Prime Minister Bruce Golding meets with Jamaica's new High Commissioner Designate to Canada, Sheila Sealy Monteith, last Friday at Jamaica House in Kingston.

Monday, 15 February 2010

TALLAWAH FOLKS: Ziggy Marley on being a good global citizen has gathered some of the world's strongest and most influential Black voices to discuss what it means to be a good global citizen. The website is a forum for celebs, leaders, artists and the wider international public to participate. Here, Jamaica’s own reggae phenom Ziggy Marley describes his vision of a global community.

Friday, 12 February 2010

FILM REVIEW: Edge of Darkness

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Mel Gibson is a bereaved seeking answers in Edge of Darkness.

Edge of Darkness (Warner Bros)

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic and Shawn Roberts

Running Time: 1hr 56 mins

Tyrone’s Verdict: B

Seems Mel Gibson is still a lethal weapon after all. In Edge of Darkness, a solid though ultimately uneven revenge thriller from director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), the controversial actor and filmmaker turns in an appealing performance as a father laid bare by his daughter’s gruesome murder.

While the film’s pace is occasionally leaden and the dialogue only modestly engrossing, Gibson’s convincing grief-ravaged routine elevates the whole affair and sits well with Campbell’s commendably taut and effective direction.

Gibson is Thomas Craven, a dedicated Boston detective, caring father and a single man, whose pride and joy is his daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), a perceptive and good-natured research assistant at a nuclear company located elsewhere in the country. The same evening father and daughter are re-united in Boston, after being apart for a long spell, Emma is gunned down on the front porch of her dad’s house via a shotgun blast to the chest by a masked assailant. Initially, it is believed that Craven was the killer’s intended target, but that theory is quickly tossed aside when outrageous details about Emma’s life and research work emerges.

To get to the bottom of the vicious crime against his family, Craven spearheads a complicated and frustrating investigation, which eventually leads to a probe into the operations of the shadowy nuclear company, headed by the shady and dangerous Jack Bennett (Danny Huston), where Emma worked. Still in shock over the tragedy but determined to find his daughter’s killer, Craven stops at nothing to see his mission through. The power of grief and loss to transform a decent man into a vengeful and violent beast is one of the most illuminating highlights of this otherwise unevenly entertaining picture.

As with many conspiracy thrillers, there’s corruption and cover-ups (involving a weasley government operative played by Ray Winstone). Campbell ratchets up the intensity to maximize the impact of crucial scenes, sporadically giving much-needed oomph to the work of screenwriters Andrew Bovell and William Monahan, who took home an Academy Award for The Departed.

But, in the end, Edge of Darkness belongs to Gibson, who lends nuance and emotional pull to his conflicted character. As the bereaved father searching for answers about his daughter’s murder, he makes a strong comeback and offers proof that he can still serve it up as a likeable, sturdy and convincing leading man.